One need that was a glaring issue for the Pittsburgh Penguins this season and played a significant role in their failure to make the playoffs was a constant black hole at third line center. Whether it was Jeff Carter, Mikael Granlund, or anyone else who was plugged into the role, the results were simply not good enough and in dire need of correcting.
How the Penguins go about filling this void in the lineup will be entirely up to the new front office and their approach to roster management. It’s easy to make a list of names you could fill role with, it’s an entirely different ballgame when it comes to making the moves.
Regardless of difficulty, the third line center role needs fixed if the Penguins are to compete next season, and luckily, there are a few avenues they can take to make it happen.
Free Agent Finds
One of the quickest ways to improve a roster is through free agency. While this year’s free agent class isn’t the deepest, there are a few intriguing names the Penguins could target depending on the cost.
Max Domi has been tied to the Pens in past trade rumors so he jumps out right away. Maybe the Penguins could interest Jordan Staal in a reunion. Same goes for Evan Rodrigues. Whatever the case, the options are out there and just about everyone provides a boost over what is currently on the roster.
Short of their first round pick that is now officially the 14th pick in the upcoming NHL Draft, the Penguins don’t have much capital when it comes to swinging a big deal. In fact, that pick cold be a very big bargaining chip when it comes to making a trade this offseason.
Perhaps that pick is better suited a swing a deal for a larger piece than a third line center like a goaltender or defenseman, but nonetheless it’s maybe their only significant trade asset and with the need for a 3C being so high this offseason, perhaps they put a package together to help fill that gap heading into next season.
Stay Within the System
It’s not a great option but it is an option the new Penguins brass will surely at least evaluate when they come on. The only viable option on the NHL roster at the moment is pending RFA Ryan Poehling who put together an alright season when he was healthy and could be a candidate to come back next season but he seems more suited as a south liner.
A quick glimpse at the farm system and the situation becomes even more dire when it comes to center depth that could make the NHL. Like I said, the system doesn’t provide many great options.
Lady Luck is on the Pens side during the draft lottery and the Penguins move up into the Top 5 where they can select a future franchise cornerstone who can develop in that third line role while mentoring under Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
More of the Same
Nothing changes and they run it back with Granland and/or Carter next season.
Based on what little information we have regarding who Fenway Sports Group is targeting for the general manager role, we do expect them to be moving towards a front office what is more progressive and more open to the wide use of analytics. If that is the case, then this option should be off the table when it comes to the roster for next season.
How do you think the Penguins should go about finding a third line center?
This poll is closed
Sign a free agent
Make a trade
Pull from the system
Run it back with Carter/Granlund